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CDC issues alert about drug-resistant stomach bug's spread
February 27 2023, 08:00

The CDC issued a warning to health care providers this week about an uptick nationwide in "extensively drug-resistant" shigellosis, which is a bacterial infection that affects the intestines and causes inflammatory diarrhea. 

There are about 450,000 shigellosis infections every year. The CDC reports that 5% of all infections in 2022 were extensively drug-resistant, or XDR, up from zero in 2015. 

An infection is considered extensively drug-resistant when it doesn't respond to antibiotics that are commonly used to treat it, such as azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, and others. 

"XDR Shigella bacteria have limited antimicrobial treatment options, are easily transmissible, and can spread antimicrobial resistance genes to other enteric bacteria," the CDC wrote in an overview for an upcoming meeting next week about the increase in infections. 

Shigellosis is easily spread through person-to-person contact, including sexual contact, as well as through contaminated food and water. 


Aside from diarrhea, infected individuals also usually experience fever and stomach pain. Symptoms last about one week and start one to two days after infection. 

Young children, international travelers, and people living with HIV have historically been impacted by shigellosis the most. 

Health officials noted in the alert on Friday that "there are no CDC recommendations for treating XDR shigellosis in the United States." 

"Healthcare providers treating XDR shigellosis should consult with a specialist knowledgeable in treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria to determine the best treatment options," the CDC wrote in the advisory.